Social Media Accessibility: 6 Things to Consider

June 20, 2023

In today’s digital age, social media has become an integral part of our lives. As place marketers, we rely heavily on these platforms to reach target audiences and promote our destinations, regional career opportunities and business investment strengths. However, in the quest to reach more of the right people, teams can overlook a crucial aspect of social media marketing: accessibility.

“If you’re not trying to be inclusive online, then your content could be acting as a barrier and preventing people from accessing valuable information,” explains Accessible Social, a free resource and education hub that shares best practices for creating accessible and inclusive social media content.

As brands and communities focus on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, they need to make sure those efforts extend online. Here are a few reasons why.

1. Foster Inclusivity: Incorporating accessibility into your social media marketing strategy can help you reach a wider audience, including people with visual, auditory or physical disabilities, through alt-text on photos for screen readers, closed captions on videos, and more. By making content accessible, you are creating an inclusive environment for all your followers, which can increase engagement.

2. Increase Visibility: Accessible content is also better for search engine optimization (SEO). Social media platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube have algorithms that prioritize accessible content. This means that if your content is accessible, it is more likely to show up in search results, increasing visibility.

3. Reach a Wider Audience: Accessibility is not just limited to people with disabilities. Non-native speakers, older adults, and people with low literacy levels also benefit from accessible content. By incorporating these efforts into your social media marketing strategy, you are making it easier for everyone to consume and engage with your content.

So, how can you make your social media marketing accessible? There is a lot that you can (and should!) learn about, but here are a few steps you can take to make sure you are doing your part on social media content:

1. Don’t Skip the Alt Text: Ensure all images and videos have alt text descriptions. These are short text descriptions that describe the content of the image or video and helps people with visual impairments to understand the content. Make alt-text a regular habit by writing it during at the beginning of the content creation process and adding when you schedule/publish content.

2. Closed Captions Are a Must: Another way to make your social media marketing accessible is by providing closed captions for videos. Closed captions are text overlays that appear on the screen, providing a written version of the audio. Most social media platforms will auto-generate captions, which you can then proof and edit. What some of us think of as a choice when watching TV can make all the difference in daily life for those with hearing impairments.

3. Reconsider those Hashtags and Emojis: While hashtags and emojis can help your brand join in on fun trends and even broaden the reach, it’s important to use with discretion. When using hashtags, make sure to capitalize the first letter of each word – i.e. #CamelCase – rather than keeping everything lowercase out of convenience or outdated aesthetics. This can make your hashtags easier to read for everyone, not just users with visual impairments. Want to add an emoji after every other word in a sentence? Think again. Screen readers will describe an emoji if used in the middle of a sentence, subsequently making your message incomprehensible. While it’s fine and encouraged to use emojis, don’t overuse and make sure they’re at the end of sentences to avoid confusion.

All in all, accessibility is an essential aspect of social media marketing that should not be overlooked. By making your content accessible, you are creating an inclusive environment for your followers – including visitors and location decision makers, indirectly increasing reach and engagement and even improving SEO. So, make accessibility a priority in your social media marketing strategy and reap the benefits it has to offer.

Need help putting in the effort? For any questions or inquiries about social media marketing for economic development and destination marketing organizations, please reach out to [email protected]. Want to make other parts of your digital marketing strategy accessible? Learn how to make your website ADA compliant.

Written by

Hanna Gbordzoe

Vice President, Digital